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FutureStarrLead Plant Uses
Leadplant is a subshrub to herbaceous perennial with multiple stems that can get to about 3 ft tall. Leaves are odd-pinnately compound and covered in dense lead-colored silver-gray hairs (giving the plant its common name). Purple flowers have one petal and are along the top parts of some of the stems. The stamens are orange in color and when found extend out past the petal. The fruits are small pods that contain one seed, which is smooth and brown.
Leadplant can occur in soils that are somewhat acidic to alkaline and can tolerate some salinity. It is resistant to occurrences of fire and can tolerate a moderate amount of grazing. Leadplant is a good indicator of well managed lands that have moderate to low levels of livestock grazing. Leadplant is native to areas in Manitoba and Ontario. In the U.S. it occurs from Montana east to Michigan, and south to New Mexico and Louisiana. For updated distribution, please consult the Plant Profile page for this species on the PLANTS Web site.The name “lead plant” apparently came from the antique belief that this plant grew in places where lead was in the ground, indicating that metal’s presence. Maybe the association arose from the grayish look of the foliage. It is true that an area in southeast Missouri, around the towns of Potosi and Ironton, has long been the center of an important lead-mining district. However, the lead-mining areas hardly correspond with the much wider distribution of lead plant.
Ethnobotanic: Many Native American tribes used leadplant in many ways. Most made a tea from the leaves and drank the tea, sometimes as a medicine to treat ailments such as pinworms, eczema, rheumatism, neuralgia, open wounds, and cuts. Some tribes made a substance to smoke from leadplant leaves and buffalo fat. Some believed that it could be used to make a “medicine” to attract buffalo to the person that had it on their clothing. Some tribes named the plant “buffalo bellows” because the timing of flowering coincided with the time of the year that the buffalo were in rut and bellowing.Seed - presoak for 12 hours in warm water and sow early spring in a greenhouse. The seed usually germinates in 1 - 2 months at 20ï¿½C. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, June/July in a frame. High percentage. Cuttings of mature wood of the current seasons growth, autumn, in a sheltered position outdoors. Takes 12 months. Suckers in spring just before new growth begins. Layering in spring . (Source: www.naturalmedicinalherbs.net)